Everyone knows the cloud is the place to be, offering greater flexibility, agility and opportunities for innovation. No wonder more than 90% of today’s enterprises are, at least partly, already there.[1] But nearly two-thirds of global IT executives say their migration to the cloud hasn’t achieved the results they expected.[2] Asked about the biggest barrier to getting their hope for return on investment, about 46% companies globally reported “security and compliance” as the top barrier followed by “misalignment between IT and business” and companies in ANZ consider Application and Infrastructure sprawl as a key barrier. 

But hold on. Isn’t cloud just a technology shift? Aren’t we simply provisioning the same technology in a different way?

Well no. The cloud and on-premise worlds are poles apart – for both IT organisations and business users. To truly realise the value of cloud, you need to rethink your entire operating model, its people, processes, technology and governance. And you need to have that rethink before you lift and shift.

A rushed migration without a vision for your future operating model is a recipe for disappointment, leaving business users at sea, IT unable to support the cloud environment and the organisation exposed to security and compliance risks.

Prepare your organisation to be Cloud First

Supporting a cloud footprint is very different than in the on-premise world, requiring new functions, processes, technology and skills to support business outcomes. This is not just an issue for CIOs. COOs and CHROs also need to consider how to:

  • Manage change in the business – The apps the business is using will be familiar, but the way people engage with IT and are billed for IT services has changed dramatically. Business units no longer spend CAPEX procuring their own systems. IT is now a subscription service, with charge backs reflecting on-demand use. Instead of taking weeks, server, network, storage and security capacity can be deployed in minutes at the click of an authorised IT mouse. So can new services, like machine learning tools that will deep dive into your data. The business also needs to understand and be taught to use the new tools available to them in the cloud – and how to acquire them. People need to adapt to high levels of automation, self-service and financial transparency.
  • Modernise IT’s operating model, roles and capabilities – In the cloud, some of IT’s traditional skills (configuring servers, routers, networks and firewalls) are no longer needed and its organisation is completely different. Rather than traditional IT teams aligned to a business function, cloud needs small (mostly fewer than 10 people), collaborative teams aligned to a technical product or business service. These small teams own applications end-to-end with DevOps and are sufficiently nimble to react quickly to product updates and business changes. They typically include a scrum master, business analyst, architect, code developer, cloud engineer and security specialist.

Many of these roles will need to be filled by external hires or retrained internal candidates. Your existing developers are used to traditional on-premise tools. Now they need to learn to use the provider’s tools which is required to push code into the cloud. Given that you need to get these skills in play as quickly as possible, if you’re looking to reskill, you’ll need an interim contract with cloud professionals who can support the environment while training up your internal team.

Update your controls – You need the discipline and control in the cloud to ensure your usage is safe, secure and not blowing your budget out of the water. Cloud consumption itself needs a governance process to ensure money is only being spent on what the business needs – and not more.

When you no longer control physical access to data centres, risk management and compliance becomes a different ball game. Previously, your data centre manager tracked who went in and out, using security cameras and login records. In the cloud, this control is in the hands of your provider. Now, your security measures are around: tagging your footprint so you know who’s logging in and out; making sure your provider is auditing its own controls; and checking that its client data protection plans are up to date and being enforced.

Every time an app or a piece of infrastructure moves to the cloud, you need to reassess and update its controls. This requires change on a massive scale. Organisations in highly regulated industries will be familiar with the granularity of controls needed to operate securely in the cloud. Others will find the level of security required a severe pain point.

  • Update your tools and processes – Being in the cloud supports end-to-end automation, but making that work requires new processes and cloud-native tools. Cloud capabilities need to be supported by a number of different processes tailored to act in the new way. Every service catalogue must be refreshed. Every process around monitoring and supporting technology must be updated. You also need a tooling assessment to figure out which support tools to keep and which cloud-native tools to adopt.

Everyone loves the cloud, but it takes an extraordinary amount of work to change your operation model to make the transformation graceful. Before you take a step into the cloud you need to:

  • Define where you want to go – agree on business outcomes, strategic initiatives, financial impacts, innovation and agility
  • Assess where you are today – use control, tooling, process and skills audits to determine cloud readiness
  • Create the roadmap – close the gap and map the path to realising cloud value

Be aware that, even if you’re cloud ready, you’ll be operating in ‘multi-mode’ for at least a year – and probably longer. You can’t jump into the cloud all at once, so you still have to be able to operate legacy services in parallel with your cloud migration.

The technology behind the cloud is the easy part. The hard stuff is changing the way your organisation works.

Make sure you track progress in baby steps and celebrate victories. Otherwise, it may appear that your cloud program has stalled. Understanding the actual effort required and tracking progress will show that slow but steady wins the race!

Read more on how to get your cloud migration right


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[1] Business Transformation through Multi-cloud, (2019) Everest Group Research

[2] Cloud outcomes survey: Expectations vs. reality, (2020) Accenture

Al Auda

Managing Director – Mainframe Modernisation Lead, ANZ

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